Archive for secrecy

Subpoenas issued in WI John Doe probe, so GOP tried to change law

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As I mentioned in my previous post, Another CA city sues over voting rights law, if you can't win on the merits of your arguments, on your policies (or lack thereof), your talent, or on your powers of persuasion, then hey, cheat. Dirty tricks abound in politics, and Wisconsin's John Doe criminal investigation is no exception. In this case, some subpoenas were sent out in the case involving alleged GOP campaign finance shenanigans, so what's a Republican to do? Why, quietly change the law to suit their needs. No sense in succumbing to potential criminal status when you can use a Mr. Dirty Tricks Clean Magic Eraser to whisk away the dirt!

mr. clean magic eraser

As you may recall, there is an ongoing John Doe investigation into possible illegal coordination between Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and several conservative groups. Poor Scotty. So many issues, so little time. He's accused of being part of "criminal scheme," which can't be boosting his image or helping his potential 2016 presidential run at all. His troubles just keep on a-mounting. And Walker and his GOP buddies are amounting... to a big stack of fail.

PRWatch.org has the goods:

New documents indicate that just weeks after the first subpoenas were issued in Wisconsin's "John Doe" criminal campaign finance probe in October 2013, senate Republicans had begun working to change state law to legalize the activities under investigation.

Legislative Republicans surprised many in the state in March of 2014 when they tried to rush Senate Bill 654 through the legislature to explicitly carve-out an exception to the state's campaign finance statutes for so-called "issue ads," those thinly-veiled election messages that stop short of telling viewers to vote for or against a candidate.

cya smaller

The Wisconsin State Journal called it "dodging public scrutiny." I call it CYA.

On October 3, 2013, prosecutors secretly served Wisconsin Club for Growth director Eric O'Keefe with a subpoena in the John Doe investigation, and executed search warrants on the homes of Walker's top campaign advisor R.J. Johnson (who also was the Club's chief strategist) and his associate Deborah Jordahl.

Two weeks after the secret subpoenas were issued, drafting records show that an aide to [Sen. Mary Lazich (R)], Zach Bemis, contacted the Legislative Reference Bureau and requested a bill that would rewrite state law, reverse court of appeals precedent, and exempt "issue ads" from Wisconsin campaign finance statutes. [...]

By changing the law to put issue ads beyond the reach of Wisconsin's campaign finance statutes, Lazich's bill would have had the effect of legalizing the issue ad coordination under investigation. Lazich was the subject of a recall attempt in 2011.

You can find more details here, definitely worth a read.

Welcome to Walker World.

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Judge: Florida redistricting a "mockery," illegally favors GOP

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Florida (aka Flori-duh) Republicans just got a major smackdown from a circuit judge who ruled that their congressional redistricting map was illegal. North Carolina, are you paying attention?

The map is now invalid because it "violates constitutional provisions that require fair districts," per the Los Angeles Times. Or to put it another way, the GOP hoped to pull a fast one on Democratic voters and failed miserably. The plan is "invalid."

In Florida, the GOP controls the Legislature, and the judge said that they did that with "improper partisan intent" in 2012.

gerrymander definition

gerrymandering via Doonesbury

Oh, but it gets worse. Judge Lewis also said that those (ir)responsible tried to keep the whole thing a big secret. And you know what they say about cover-ups...

cover up 2 cover-up...where...

cover up worse than crime

In a scathing opinion, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry P. Lewis ruled in Tallahassee that the Legislature's Republican political consultants had "made a mockery" of the redistricting process, tainting it with "partisan intent."

Lewis said that the districts, drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature after the 2010 census, flouted voter-passed constitutional amendments intended to eliminate gerrymandering - that is, often-bizarre and irregular lines that make a district safe for one party or the other. [...]

Lewis noted that legislative leaders and political operatives had deleted emails and other documents outlining their redistricting efforts.

As the League of Women Voters of Florida president said, the ruling "exposed the conspiracy to influence and manipulate the Legislature into violating its constitutional duties."

Of course, Republicans will blame those pesky activist judges. Like the ones on the Supreme Court, GOP?

nice try no cigar

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Judge who ended #Walker probe attended junkets financed by Kochs (VIDEO)

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citizens united check republic billionaires Koch brothers dark money

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A judge is supposed to be impartial. A judge, well, judges, and so he or she must be fair and dispassionate. A judge should not feel pressured or indebted to any party while rendering a decision. He or she should only rely on evidence presented.

So, when reports surfaced that the judge who halted the Walker "John Doe" criminal investigation attended all-expenses paid "judicial junkets," that raised a few eyebrows. Why?

Those little "junkets" were funded by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and other ideological and corporate interests. And by now, it's common knowledge that Walker and the Kochs are BFF. Well, Walker and the Kochs' wallets are BFF, because nothing defines friendship like corporate cash.

Did I mention that same judge has an assistant who is married to a Walker campaign lawyer?

Chris Hayes covered the corrupt judge story on "All In" last night. PR Watch wrote it up a few days ago:

On May 6, federal District Court Judge Rudolph Randa blocked an ongoing John Doe criminal probe into allegedly illegal coordination between nonprofit groups like Wisconsin Club for Growth, which spent $9.1 million on electoral ads during Wisconsin's recall elections, and the recall campaigns of Governor Scott Walker and state senators. John Doe investigations are similar to grand jury investigations, and Wisconsin Club for Growth -- and its director, Eric O'Keefe, a longtime compatriot of the Koch brothers -- asked the federal court to stop the probe, alleging it violated their "free speech" rights.

Judge Randa sided with O'Keefe, and also ordered prosecutors to destroy all evidence gathered in the investigation, an extraordinary edict in a criminal case made even more astounding by the fact that it came in the context of a preliminary injunction. The Seventh Circuit has blocked this part of his ruling; an appeal of the remainder of his decision is pending.

An analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that Judge Randa attended privately-funded, all-expenses-paid judicial seminars put on by George Mason University in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012, according to publicly-available financial disclosure forms. (The 2013 disclosure form has been requested but has not yet been publicly posted).

The George Mason University seminars are bankrolled by a long list of right-wing foundations, like Koch, Bradley, and the Searle Freedom Trust, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and corporations like BP, Exxon Mobil, and Dow Chemical.

Much more at the link.

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Gov. Scott Walker failed to disclose how much he was paid to write book

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Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker co-wrote a book with Marc Thiessen, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush. He got paid to do that, but he won't reveal how much. Walker is prone to secrecy. And I am prone to stating the obvious.

But back to Walker's secrecy issues. He refuses to tell anyone who donated to his legal defense fund. He needed the money from his anonymous donors to cover the costs of the "John Doe" campaign finance violations probe into his former aides and associates.

And now Walker is hiding something else, via TwinCities.com:

Gov. Scott Walker did not disclose Wednesday how much he was paid to write a book he released last fall, providing only the bare minimum required on a statement of economic interest form he filed with state regulators.

18,000 copies were sold over a six month period.

"This report shows Gov. Walker continues to keep secret from the people of Wisconsin both the details of how much he personally enriched himself for his lucrative pre-presidential campaign book deal, as well as who financed his criminal defense fund," said Scot Ross, director of the liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now. "Given the corruption, cronyism and incompetence surrounding his administration, the people deserve much more information than what Gov. Walker has shielded from public scrutiny."

One thing is no secret-- Walker continues to be a scheming, hypocritical phony who should have been recalled from office.

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We must climb out of the black hole of American injustice and apathy

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As regular readers know, I do a weekly radio spot with Nicole Sandler, and today we tried to climb out of the black hole of American injustice and apathy as we discussed some of the stories you won't hear or see in the corporate media.

Every week, Nicole has someone on from Talk Radio News Service who fills her in on the morning's breaking news. Chief White House correspondent and global analyst Victoria Jones was her TRNS guest this week, and this is the disturbing report that she brought us. Ready? Emphasis mine:

Intel Chief Issues Press Limits:

The Obama administration has barred officials at 17 agencies from speaking to journalists about unclassified intelligence-related topics without permission. The directive, issued by DNI James Clapper, also requires agencies' employees to report any unplanned contact with journalists (NYT, Hill, me) [Laffy Note: If you recall, Clapper wasn't exactly forthcoming with Congress about NSA surveillance.]

• Officials who violate the directive may be disciplined or fired. The directive was issued in March. Clapper also issued rules to protect whistle-blowers who report info about waste, fraud or abuse via approved govt channels, although not to the news media

• Those rules, carrying out a presidential order, don't apply to intel contractors, only agency employees, a gap that's attracted scrutiny amid the debate over leaks by former contractor Edward Snowden - who pointed out he wasn't covered

The directive was reported by Steven Aftergood, head of the Project on Govt Secrecy. He wrote: "So under most circumstances, an intel community employee is at liberty to discuss unclassified "intelligence-related information" with his or her next-door neighbor,"

• "But if the neighbor happened to be a member of the media, then the contact would be prohibited altogether without prior authorization." (well, when you put it like that...)

You can read more details here, at the New York Times. This is not easy news to process, let alone accept.

Needless to say, Nicole and I lamented about the state of our dwindling rights, the decrease in feasible ways to organize and fight back, our abysmal lack of real news, and the mounting difficulty in disseminating accurate information, the soon-to-be extinct liberal radio outlets (did I mention Randi Rhodes is going off the air on May 16th?), among other things. The Political Carnival will post the podcast covering all of this later today.

The account above followed news of the terrible Supreme Court ruling that upheld Michigan’s affirmative action ban.

Jacob Dean of Filter Free Radio posted this quote in the chat room during the show:

"We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the press destroys information, religion destroys morals, and our banks destroy the economy.”

Chris Hedges

We clearly have our work cut out for us.

Voting is only part of the answer. Growing a movement, using social media, forcing our elected officials to hear us, supporting Progressive candidates for local offices on up, and refusing to accept the status quo matter. Pay attention, Progressives, organize, speak out loudly, and never ever give in or give up.

Between these reports, the (sometimes violent) extremists on the right, their lies, fear tactics, and propaganda, the growing polarization of this country, the threats of climate change and assault on civil rights, and the (often willful) ignorance of voters, it's time to wake up and act before it's too late.

We can do this. But we have to start right now.

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Military spouses, fearing loss of benefits, stay mum about sexual misconduct of husbands

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military spouses wife toughest job

Military spouses have it tough enough, what with worrying if their husband or wife will come home in one piece or even in a box. But military spouses of cheating husbands have been under additional pressure to keep quiet about the extra-curricular activities of their lawfully wedded philanderers. Why? Because if they dare expose the betrayal, they could lose "a lifetime of military benefits if their husbands were dismissed from the Army."

"You're advised to keep your mouth shut and let him retire because you could lose everything."

And so adultery and other sex-related military crimes went unreported. This is tragic.

The Los Angeles Times has an eye-opening report about women finally demanding that their families be protected if their cheating husband is punished harshly for misconduct:

Fear of losing benefits keeps many military wives from exposing sexual misconduct or other offenses committed by their husbands, say many of those familiar with the military criminal justice system. [Kris] Johnson kept quiet about her husband, Col. James H. Johnson III, while he carried on an affair with an Iraqi woman while deployed to that country.

But when Col. Johnson moved his mistress into his military quarters in Italy, his wife turned him in — painfully aware that she and her two children might be cut off from benefits as a result... In both the Johnson and [Rebecca] Sinclair cases, court concerns that dismissing the officers would also punish their families helps explain the relatively light sentences.

As a result of wives campaigning for changes, Congress is requiring the Pentagon to consider "transitional benefits." A study will begin in May. Yes, a study. But it is a step in the right direction. And it's about time. Since 2000, more than 19,000 service members were booted from the military for sexual misconduct. That meant no health or dental care, military IDs, or housing for military spouses and their children. How's that for family values?

Kris Johnson, who urged a petition to Congress for the changes, said her husband, Brig. Gen. Sinclair, and other senior officers felt invincible. "When they had their zippers unzipped," she said, "they weren't' thinking of their families."

Yes, it's highly unlikely that they take their wives and kids into account mid-shtup.

Prosecutors told her that her husband was kept in the Army to protect benefits for her and her children.

Johnson said she supported her husband's career for 25 years, constantly moving and enduring multiple deployments while caring for two children. Like many military spouses, she was unable to build her own career; she relied instead on military benefits...

She finally turned her husband in after enduring his living arrangements with his mistress, the woman who was also by his side when he socialized with fellow officers. Hence the adjective "invincible"... or as I like to call it, sleazy, vile, despicable, and shameless.

You can see why these military spouses were up to here with losing a lifetime of benefits because of these bottom feeders. Let's hope the Pentagon "study" next month produces real results real fast.

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Even if Chris #Christie skates on #Bridgegate, "his ethics troubles won’t be over."

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New Jersey Gov. Chris "Cleared and Still Heartbroken" Christie has more ethics issues to deal with. Yes, more. Bet you didn't think that was even possible, did you? Guess again.

This time his problems stem from questionable campaign contributions. Surprise! And by that I mean, not surprised in the least. Words like "secretive" and "little-regulated" popped up in this latest report.

Roll Call has the whole story:

Christie’s complicated relationship with campaign contributors and state contractors, in particular, will draw scrutiny as he continues to mull a 2016 presidential bid. Christie’s donors have a history of gravitating to secretive and little-regulated political groups to promote the GOP governor and his agenda.

These include tax-exempt organizations that spent millions on Christie’s gubernatorial election and re-election campaigns, and that operate outside the disclosure rules. [...]

...Christie’s big backers, who have bankrolled several pro-Christie operations, stand out because many of them are state contractors otherwise barred from contributing to his campaign. New Jersey “pay-to-play” laws, considered the strictest in the nation, bar large state contractors, utilities and financial services firms that manage state pension funds from donating to state candidates.

Yet a long list of New Jersey contractors and pension fund managers have given generously to groups that either back or are closely linked with Christie. Such contributions have repeatedly raised questions as to whether Christie supporters are skirting the state’s pay-to-play laws.

Before Governor "Who Moi?" became chairman of the RGA, the organization raised over $500,000 from "New Jersey utilities, individuals and businesses with significant state contracts," according to the New York Times..

Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, said, “Government contractors cannot make contributions directly to Christie, but what they can do is give contributions to the RGA. And the RGA can use those contributions to promote Christie.” It sure did, to the tune of $1.7 million for his re-election.

[Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts] referred CQ Roll Call to Christie’s public comments on Reform Jersey Now in 2009: “There are a group of citizens who are out there to advocate policies in line with mine, and that’s great.”

As with Christie’s more recent troubles, that’s a response that is likely to beg further questions.

Christie's likely response will be, "Ethics schmethics. Shut up, you idiots." And then he'll clear himself.

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